Prime Minister António Costa said that “European recovery must be based on the drivers of climate and digital transitions”, during the presentation of the priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union.
In Brussels, at the plenary session of the European Parliament, António Costa underlined the three priorities for the semester to be led by Portugal: economic and social recovery in Europe, development of the social pillar and strengthening of strategic autonomy.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the success of the vaccination process is “the first condition for economic recovery”, but added that it is necessary to implement in parallel the various instruments of economic and social recovery, such as the Next Generation EU and the programs of the new Quaro Multiannual Financial (Horizonte Europa, EU4Health and Erasmus +).
António Costa also stressed that “the European Ecological Pact is urgent” and added that “combating climate change must be a transversal objective of all Union policies”, assuming the approval of the new Climate Law as one of the “main objectives politicians”.
“This is also the decade of Digital Europe. A day without betting on digital is yet another day of delay in this demanding competition on a global scale in which Europe must be at the forefront”, he assumed, referring that the Portuguese presidency will“ pay particular attention to the new Digital Services Package”. This package will be “fundamental for the protection of individual rights and democratic sovereignty, and to bring greater competition to the digital market, stimulating entrepreneurship and creativity”.
The Prime Minister reiterated that the “recovery cannot be limited to responding to the needs of the present with stimulus of the conjuncture, but with investments and reforms” that allow a more resilient, greener and more digital European Union.
Implementation of the European Union’s Social Pillar
António Costa said that the realization of the social pillar has three fundamental axes: reinforcing the qualifications so that citizens are actors and not victims of climate and digital transitions; investing more in innovation to strengthen the competitiveness of companies; and strengthening social protection to ensure that no one is left behind.
The organization of a Social Summit in Porto, in May, will aim to «give a strong political impulse to the Action Plan that the Commission will present in March and which materializes the ambition expressed by citizens to put into practice the 20 general principles proclaimed in Gothenburg”.
“The development of the social pillar is fundamental to give Europeans confidence that the changes we are experiencing are not a threat, but, on the contrary, an opportunity”, he added, stressing that “materializing the social pillar is the best vaccine against inequalities, fear and populism”.
Strategic autonomy of a European Union open to the world
The third priority of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union has the objective of reducing dependence on the supply of essential goods by third parties and of reducing value chains that have a high risk of interruption, without thereby becoming too protectionist.
“The strengthening of strategic autonomy means a Europe that is a global player, valuing the social and environmental standards that distinguish and make us proud”, he said, underlining the objectives of strengthening “neighbuorhood partnerships, East and South, and partnership with the African continent, and relations with the United Kingdom, the United States and Latin America ”.
The Prime Minister also stressed the intention to “promote a closer and strategic partnership” with India and highlighted the summit scheduled for May, in Porto, which will be “centered on cooperation in the field of digital, trade and investment, pharmaceuticals, science and space ».
António Costa also stressed the importance of “continuing to work on the new Pact for Migration and Asylum, trying to find the right balance between its internal and external dimensions, without forgetting also legal migration”.
At the press conference after the plenary session, attended by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, António Costa welcomed the “great consensus found on the main priorities of the presidency Portuguese ».
“I leave here with the confidence that, in the face of all difficulties, there is very strong political support given the priorities of this presidency,” he added.